NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local diocese, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church. This ministry - my "little work" - is strictly a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu.

~ Peter, Ministry Administrator

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Monthly Message of the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: December 25th, 2021

Monthly Message, given through Marija Pavlovic Lunetti:
  “Dear children!  Today I am carrying my Son Jesus to you, for Him to give you His peace.  Little children, without peace you do not have a future or blessing; therefore return to prayer, because the fruit of prayer is joy and faith, without which you cannot live.  Today’s blessing which we give you, carry to your families and enrich all those whom you meet, that they may feel the grace which you are receiving.  Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Special Message, given through Jacov Colo (during his annual apparition):
  "Dear children, you are, and you are called, 'children of God'.  If only your hearts would feel that immeasurable love which God has for you, your hearts would adore and give thanks to Him at every instant of your life.  Therefore, little children, today, on this day of grace, open your hearts and implore the Lord for the gift of faith; so that you could truly become worthy of the name 'children of God' who, with a pure heart, give thanks to and honor their Heavenly Father.  I am beside you and am blessing you with my motherly blessing."

Monday, December 13, 2021

Saint of the Month - December 2021: Saint Nicholas of Myra

St. Nicholas of Myra
Help of the Poor - the real Santa Claus
Feast: December 6th

It’s Christmas Season again, which means “Santa Claus” is a familiar sight in homes, shopping malls, and sidewalk corners.  Sadly, there are a lot of people out there who are unaware that the longstanding tradition of this beloved character originated from an actual historic person - a Catholic priest - who died, circa 343 AD in Myra, Lycia (now in present-day Turkey).  So this month’s saint bio relates the story of the real St. Nicholas, whose life is far more richer and inspiring than the cuddly caricature modern society transformed him into.

Admittedly, early details are lacking in St. Nicholas' story but what is known of him is that he was born in the city of Patara, in Lycia, to an affluent and highly devout Christian couple; the result of their prayer to conceive a child.  In his youth he was said to be exemplary in conduct and proficient in the Church's teachings… and, after returning from a pilgrimage to sacred sites in Egypt and the Holy Land, he joined the priesthood and rose swiftly to the office of Bishop of Myra.

During his episcopal reign, Nicholas was noted for his deep commitment to Christ and the Church, and was a staunch defender against heresies such as Arianism.  Having been captured by the officials of the notoriously anti-Christian Roman Emperor, Diocletian, he was imprisoned and tortured for the Faith but never broke under the cruel treatment he received.

A forensic reconstruction using the skull
of St. Nicholas resulted in the image above.

Providentially, the good Bishop was eventually released from captivity after the sympathetic Constantine the Great became Emperor in 306, and finally ended the persecution of Christians.  Nicholas later participated in the historic Council of Nicaea, that defined the teachings of the Faith, which was initiated by the same emperor in 325.

In Myra, St. Nicholas was also revered for his solicitous care of his flock and was reported to have worked many miracles, including raising the dead back to life through the power of his prayer.  He often went about at night discretely tossing coin-filled purses into the windows of the poor and the sick, which, no doubt, contributed to the Santa Claus legend.

After the Saint’s death from natural causes, his remains were initially interred in a church in Myra, which became a local place of pilgrimage.  Things changed, however, after his bones were discovered mysteriously exuding a clear, odorless “myrrh” or "manna", which effected countless cures; causing the fame of St. Nicholas to spread beyond Lycia and into the Mediterranean regions.

The tomb of St. Nicholas in Bari, Italy.

In 1087, a group of Italian merchants sacriligiously broke into the Saint’s tomb and made off with St. Nicholas' remains, transporting them to Bari, Italy; this move further spread his cultus into Europe, and Bari quickly became a pilgrimage hotspot, especially since the miraculous manna continued to seep from the Saint's bones.

Today, St. Nicholas’ relics remain enshrined in a basilica dedicated to his honor in Bari.  There, the manna still appears and modern investigations into the phenomena determined it to not be caused by natural factors (e.g. moisture  condensation in the tomb).  The blessed liquid is collected regularly by the custodians of the shrine for distribution among the Faithful.  In this manner, the Saint continues his legacy of helping the sick through the many healings resulting from the devout use of the holy balm.

A bottle of St. Nicholas' blessed myrrh/manna.

So, as one can easily realize - there's much, much more to good ol' St. Nick compared to his fictional alter ego!

St. Nicholas of Myra, pray for us!

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Monthly Message from the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: November 25th, 2021

  "Dear children!  I am with you in this time of mercy and I am calling all of you to be carriers of peace and love in this world where, through me, little children, God is calling you to be prayer and love, and an expression of Heaven here on earth.  May your hearts be filled with joy and faith in God; that, little children, you may have complete trust in His holy will.  That is why I am with you, because He, the Most High, is sending me among you to encourage you to the hope; and you will be peacemakers in this peaceless world.  Thank you for having responded to my call."

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Coincidence or Something More?

Something big is about to happen in our times, if it hasn't already started - a major shaking up in the world; bigger than Covid-19.  God is simply giving us so many, many remarkable signs these days - it just has to be.  At least that's my personal opinion.

Just this afternoon, while driving home from work, I was praying my St. Michael prayer group's "Cohort Chaplet", which I do daily against the forces of darkness at work in the world.  Reflecting on how evil has such a strong grip on society, I was surprised to see in the sky, ahead of me, a massive image of the Lord formed by a cloud.

It was Jesus' Holy Face in profile and it couldn't be any clearer - features such as an eye, cheekbones, mouth, mustache, and beard were easily recognizable... and his expression was one of intense anguish.  I managed to take one photo, which although is not as sharp as I hoped it would be, it at least captures the profile - see below...

The profile of the Holy Face of Jesus,
as it appeared, formed by clouds over the
Honolulu sky.  Note its resemblance to the
Lord's agony in the garden, as depicted
in the painting below.

The scene only lasted for a few moments but seeing the image deeply impressed me; inspiring me to finish the chaplet with more fervor... and a nagging sense of urgency.  I asked Jesus the reason for his pain and within my soul it seemed to me that I "heard" the following response:

"I am once again being crucified...
Pray and make reparation."

Somber words; almost ominous... but was this all just a coincidence - another instance of what I refer to as "spiritual serendipity"?  Or was it something more from Jesus that requires serious reflection on our part?  As mentioned at the start, I have my opinions and, if I feel strongly enough about an unusual experience, I'll post about it... but leave it to each reader to discern and respond for him/herself.  In all things, may God bless us and help us.

Jesus, forgive us for we know
 not what we do.  Have mercy on us.
In you we trust, O Lord.  Amen.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Another successful Saints & Relics Presentation...

Holy relics of six Saints and Blesseds on
display at St. John Vianney Church.

Our Saints - what is there not to love?  In life and in death, the Saints LOVE us... they HELP us... they INSPIRE us... they PRAY for us... and they even HEAL us.  In short, they mirror CHRIST to us - perfectly... and during my Saints & Relics Presentations, I emphasize all these attributes of our holy forerunners.

And so it was with the October 25th presentation at St. John Vianney Church in Kailua.  This ministry spoke to the parish's RCIA leaders and students about our Church's long-standing tradition of devotion to Saints, and featured the following saintly individuals and their respective relics: Bl. Alexandrina Maria da Costa, St. Bernadette of Lourdes, St. Charbel Makhlouf, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, Bl. Josaphata Hordashevska, and Bl. Rolando Rivi.

The audience viewing and venerating
the relics after the presentation.

The group's response to the presentation; to the Saints and Blesseds; their holy relics... was exceptionally positive and enthusiastic.  Praise the Lord!

For everything good they represent, our Catholic Heroes - the Saints - deserve to be remembered and honored.

Happy All Saints Day!

Saint of the Month - November 2021: Blessed Josaphata Hordashevska

Bl. Josaphata Hordashevska
She served "where the need was greatest"
Memorial: November 20th

Born in Lviv, Ukraine, on November 20, 1869, this foundress of a congregation was baptized Michaelina Hordashevska.  Fortunately for her she had a devout family - members of the Eastern Rite Ukrainian Catholic Church - and their faith rubbed off on her.  From a young age she displayed a level of piety uncommon in children - she was inclined to pray in solitude and even practiced mortifications that included regularly eating bitter plants.

At the age of 18 while participating in a retreat, Michaelina had a powerful spiritual illumination that prompted her to consecrate herself completely to the Lord through a private vow of virginity.  She also resolved to become a religious, which in her time and place, was only possible through the cloistered Basilian Sisters.  Her spiritual director, however - a Basilian priest named, Fr. Jeremiah Lomnytskyj - had, for a long time, been discerning the need for an active congregation that would serve the temporal and spiritual needs of the people of Ukraine.  He believed Michaelina was an answer to his prayer.

In 1892, after much prayer and discernment, Michaelina heroically agreed to partner with Fr. Jeremiah in realizing a new congregation, regardless what challenges it entailed.  The priest sent her to nearby Zhovkva where she stayed in a convent of Polish Felician Nuns to learn the norms of religious life from them.

After two months of training with the Felicians, Michaelina was dressed in the blue habit she designed and professed vows as the very first member of her new congregation.  She then traveled to the village of Zhuzhelyany where Fr. Jeremiah had 7 postulants excitedly waiting to also consecrate themselves in active service to God.  Thus, on August 27th, 1892, the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate was officially born - their motto: Serve the people where the need is greatest.

An actual photo of Bl. Josaphata Hordashevska

From the start, Mother Josaphata (Michaelina's name in religion) began earnestly forming her new sisters in the charism of serving Christ in others.  They initially implemented their mission by simply visiting their community to care-give the sick in their own homes, and babysit children who would otherwise be alone while their parents worked.  As more people began seeking their help, and support poured in, the Sisters Servants opened daycare centers where they not only watched over children, but also taught them reading and writing; they established clinics to provide basic medical care to the sick-poor; they taught catechism to both children and adults; volunteered in local parishes to upkeep churches and fulfill various ministries.  It goes without saying, their work prospered and grew.  In fact, by 1902 the congregation had 26 convents with 128 members throughout Ukraine.

Although she was the co-founder and the first nominated superior of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, sometime during the early years of her religious career, Mother Josaphata was deposed by order of the Archbishop of Lviv, and her influence suppressed, as a result of dissension that arose in the congregation; she humbly complied and never complained when she was appointed the most difficult tasks.  In May 1909 she was vindicated and reinstated to a post of authority as the Vicaress General.

Through her ups and downs in religious life, Mother Josaphata was a consistent role model of charitable service to her spiritual daughters; once being described as having "loved God concretely in His needy ones".  A particular incident related of her gives us excellent example - neighbors once reported to the Sisters Servants about a dying woman abandoned in a barn.  The founder immediately set about looking for her and when she located the poor lady, she carried her to one of their clinics.  Upon discovering there were no open beds for the patient, she took the woman into her room where she laid her in her own bed, despite the patient being covered with grime and ulcers.  Mother Josaphata tenderly washed and treated the woman - sleeping on the floor beside the bed - until the patient peacefully expired under her merciful care.

Mother Josaphata's own death occurred on April 7th, 1919, from tuberculosis of the bone; she was only 49-years-old.  It was an extremely painful trial, but the founder endured it with patience and faith, and even accurately predicted the exact date she would pass into Eternity!  She was initially interred in the village cemetery of Krystynopil, where local devotion sprung up around her tomb, but her remains were later transferred to her congregation's Generalate in Rome in 1982.  It was during this exhumation that her body was found to be mysteriously incorrupt.

After reports continued to pour into the Generalate of favors granted through the intercession of Mother Josaphata, her Cause for Canonization was officially opened in 1992.  So far she has been Beatified by Pope St. John Paul II on June 27th, 2001; another confirmed miracle is needed to raise her to Sainthood.  Let us pray for her speedy Canonization.

Blessed Josaphata Hordashevska,
pray for us!

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Monthly Message from the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: October 25th, 2021

  “Dear children!  Return to prayer because who prays is not afraid of the future; who prays is open to life and respects the life of others; who prays, little children, feels the freedom of the children of God and in joy of heart serves for the good for his brother-man.  Because God is love and freedom, therefore, little children, when they want to put you in bonds and to use you, it is not from God.  Because God loves and gives His peace to every creature; and that is why He sent me to you to help you to grow in holiness.  Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Saturday, October 16, 2021

America Needs Fatima Rosary Rally 2021

“Pray, pray much, and sacrifice
for sinners, for many souls go to hell
because there is no one to sacrifice
and pray for them.”

- Our Lady of Fatima,
August 13, 1917

Today, groups of Faithful around the country gathered to participate in the America Needs Fatima (ANF) annual Rosary Crusade to offer needed prayer for our country that's spiraling out of control at breakneck speed.

Other chapters of the Needs Fatima organization from around the globe - Canada, Australia, etc. - also did the same for their respective countries.

Here in Kailua, Oahu, a small group of us organized by my dear friend - "Auntie Patty" - joined in on the ANF Crusade. After a one-year break in 2020 due to Covid-19, she decided to restart her long-running annual Rosary Rally, despite the pandemic.  Sure - this year's gathering wasn't as big as her pre-Covid ones, but it's OK.  The main thing is - Auntie Patty bravely said "Yes" to Our Lady and decided to hold a Rally.

So a small bunch of us came together - responsibly - to support the ANF organization and Auntie Patty to PRAY THE ROSARY.  We gathered in the Cobb-Adams Family's open-air garage where a beautiful makeshift altar was set up.

A strange occurrence that impressed us deeply was how, throughout our hour-long prayer, it was mostly quiet except for random street noise... but towards the end when we sang Marian hymns, a small group of birds in a tree suddenly began chirping loudly in chorus, as if to accompany us in honoring Our Lady!

This ministry's relics of the Fatima
Seers graced the makeshift altar during
the Rosary and other prayers.

Afterwards, we enjoyed delicious Chinese lunch plates, courtesy of  Auntie Patty. 

All in all, what a blessed and meaningful event it was.  The Holy Virgin, in her many appearances throughout the world continues to plead that we PRAY... PRAY... PRAY!  Sinners are tragically falling into Hell because of a lack of prayer for them... so let's continue responding to our Blessed Mother's call to help save souls - today just goes to show that it's possible to still come together in prayer responsibly and safely.  May God bless us all!

Monday, October 11, 2021

The Wonders of the Theotokos of Iveron

Rejoice, inexhaustible wellspring of grace;
Rejoice, thou who in boundless purity didst
serve the Infinite One!

This ministry has already posted a few times concerning its positive impressions of the "Hawaiian" myrrh-streaming icon of the "Theotokos" ("God-bearer") of Iveron... but then it recently dawned on this author that I didn't really know the entire backstory of the original icon.  I only knew the streaming icon here is a copy of a streaming icon from Montreal, Canada, which in turn, was a contemporary rendition of an ancient icon of the Holy Virgin and Christ Child currently kept in an Orthodox Monastery on Mount Athos, Greece.  I decided to do research and what a spiritual treasure trove I discovered!

According to online accounts, the original Iveron Icon was said to have been painted by St. Luke the Evangelist, like a number of highly venerated miracle-working icons of the Madonna and Child (e.g. Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Our Lady of Czestochowa).  Because of its sacred provenance, this icon, too, was considered miraculous in nature.  Somehow, in the mid-800s, it ended up in the home-chapel of a devout widow who lived in Nicaea.  At the time the Byzantine Emperor Theophilus launched an iconoclasm (war against images) - a purge of religious images, including icons in the Eastern Church - because of a misguided belief that all were "graven".

The original wonder-working
Theotokos of Iveron Icon.

As a result of the emperor's edict, soldiers showed up at the widow's home to confiscate her icon.  One brazen soldier actually slashed at the Virgin's chin with a sword after which, to the horror of all present, blood dripped from the gash inflicted.  The soldiers immediately repented and left the home without destroying the image.

The widow then offered heartfelt prayers of reparation before her treasured icon and received a divine revelation to set it adrift in the nearby ocean to save it from further desecration.  The following morning the woman and her son obediently did as commanded and laid the wooden image upon the waves of the sea, where it set itself upright and began to mysteriously sail towards the West.

The Theotokos Icon is commended to the
sea by the pious widow of Nicaea.

Some time later, the monks of Mt. Athos in eastern Greece, were struck by the sight of a pillar of fire, approaching from the horizon, that rose from the sea into the sky.  The fiery column eventually reached the Grecian shoreline where the awaiting monks discovered the floating painting at the base of the luminary phenomenon.  Their attempts to retrieve the icon failed, though, as it drifted out of reach whenever it was approached.

In the meantime, a humble and holy monk named, Gabriel (St. Gabriel of Iveron in the Orthodox Tradition), from the Georgian Monastery of Iveron (one of several Eastern Orthodox monasteries on Mt. Athos) experienced an apparition of the Blessed Virgin, who directed him to fetch her sacred image from the sea.  Gabriel, without hesitation, went down to the shore and, walking upon the waves, as though on land, easily retrieved the painting.

The Montreal streaming Iveron
Icon with its custodian, the late
Bro. Jose Munoz.

The image was initially installed in a chapel within the Iveron Monastery but it disappeared only to be found hanging near the monastery's gate.  Repeated tries to move the icon only resulted in it inexplicably returning to the gate.  Our Lady reappeared to Gabriel and spoke the following words to him:

“Announce to the brothers that
from this day they should not carry
me away.  For what I desire is not to
be protected by you; rather I will
overshadow you, both in this life
and in the age to come.  As long as
you see my icon in the monastery,
the grace and mercy of my Son
shall never be lacking!”

As a result of this revelation, a new chapel was constructed at the gate where the icon was successfully enshrined, and where it remains to this very day.  Since then, the wonder-working image was affectionately nicknamed the "Portaitissa" (the "Portress"), as well as called the Theotokos of Iveron, after the monastery in which it's kept and venerated.

A monk, Gabriel of Iveron, miraculously
retrieved the icon from the sea by walking
on its surface.

Throughout the centuries copies have been painted of the original icon, which are amongst the most popular Orthodox representations of the Holy Mother and Child.  The rustic images show the Virgin as both the Theotokos and as the "Hodegetria" ("She who points the way") since she gestures with her right hand towards her Divine Son sitting beside her. 

Contemporary renditions of the Iveron Icon are more stylized, compared to the original, and show the Holy Mother in red robes, which are traditional in Eastern iconography.  The color denotes her sanctity and sorrows as the Mother of our Savior; the child Jesus seated on her left arm holds a scroll, which from this writer's understanding symbolizes wisdom and prophecy.

Hawaii's Iveron Icon, a 
slightly smaller
version of the Montreal icon, which went
missing in 1997 after the mysterious death
in Greece of Bro. Jose Munoz.

In closing, this ministry was pleasantly surprised to learn Hawaii's streaming icon is just one of several links in a chain of miracles started centuries ago by Our Lady; a blessing not just for her Orthodox children, but also a unifying bridge between the Eastern and Western (Catholic) Churches whose members all call her "Mother"; a hypothesis supported by the many graces and healings reportedly effected by the Iveron Icon and its fragrant myrrh that have transcended denominations.

For more information about the Hawaiian myrrh-streaming icon, and/or to support its worldwide healing mission, please click here.

Rejoice, thou who sheddest tears over us
from thine icons; Rejoice, thou who givest
us tears of repentance!  Rejoice, thou who
 healest us with the medicine of
bitter sorrow...

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Young Faces of Holiness Presentation, 10/3/2021: St. John Vianney Church, Kailua

God works in mysterious ways, I tell you... and He did so again in this particular situation.  Allow me to explain...

About two months ago a brother-in-Christ had major shoulder surgery and, because he couldn't drive, he asked me for a ride to a follow-up doctor appointment in a neighboring town; I ended up driving him.  At the same time, he had found a woman online who was selling hand-crafted wooden walking sticks and arranged to have her meet him in the parking lot of the doctor's building so he could buy one (she apparently lived in the area).

As I got to talking to the woman - her name is Joan - I learned she was a devout Catholic who taught catechism at St. John Vianney Church in Kailua where I happen to regularly attend Mass on Saturday mornings.  Our lively conversation eventually shifted to the topic of Saints so I told her about this ministry and the Saints & Relics Presentation I conduct.  Joan got excited because her CCD Team was actually looking for something new to teach their students about Saints in preparation for the upcoming Feast of All Saints... and now here we are today.

I conducted a Saints & Relics Presentation, especially featuring "young faces of holiness" such as Ven. Anne de Guigne, Bl. Carlo Acutis, the Fatima Seers, and St. Germaine Cousin for the CCD kids.  For their parents, I discussed Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, and their ever-popular daughter - St. Therese the Little Flower.  I also brought St. Peregrine's relic because of the what seems to be an unusual prevalence of cancer cases in these times.

In between my talk I wove in short games to help entertain the kids, which always helps to keep them engaged... and no Guadalupe House presentation would be complete without Holy Relics so I brought several to expose the children to the concept of relics and relic veneration.


Above: Fatima Seers & St. Germaine Cousin
Below: Sts. Louis & Zelie Martin, St. Therese
the LittleFlower & St. Peregrine


Of course the ongoing pandemic is still a concern, but the CCD Team at St. John Vianney's is diligent in practicing safety precautions - requiring masks, social distancing and temperature checks for everyone who attended, including myself.  Regardless, I personally feel it's all worthwhile for the sake of the children.  These youngsters are the future of the Church and they - and perhaps their parents, too - urgently need positive role models to guide their impressionable minds... and who better than our Saints?

Children and adults view and venerate the
relics present that were spaced apart.

Based on feedback received after the talk, the presentation was very well-received by both the kids and the adults... so I know the Lord had a hand in arranging this event through that providential meeting with Joan.  Again, God works in mysterious ways.  Amen.

+ + + + +

To read an online article in the Hawaii
Catholic Herald about this talkclick here.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

A Milestone and a Miracle Icon; a First Saturday to remember...

Today's first Saturday was extra-special for two reasons...


First off, our Kailua parish's monthly First Saturday Rosary Devotion celebrated its 11th-year anniversary today - HOORAY!  I'm happy to report that, except for the brief period of time our island's churches were closed due to the pandemic, this devotion has never been interrupted since October 2010, when we first started it... and it's still going strong.  GOD IS GOOD!

So today we continued to pray for much-needed peace in our tumultuous world and, God willing, we will continue to do so for many more years.

The inside of St. Anthony of Padua Church,
Kailua, during the first Saturday Rosary.
Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Divine
Mercy are particularly invoked.


Just a few months ago, the small Russian Orthodox Church housing the world-famous Hawaiian Iveron Icon relocated from Honolulu to - of all places - Kailua; in fact, just about two blocks away from my parish church!  The miraculous icon of the Holy Mother and Child has been streaming fragrant myrrh (a watery oil-like substance) since 2007.  In June 2008, after an investigation, the Russian Orthodox Church declared it a genuine miracle.  Since then, the icon has traveled the world bringing healing and consolation to many souls.

Today, I finally had a chance to stop by the church after our parish Rosary ended to venerate the icon, which just returned to Hawaii after touring the US east coast.  The aura of Our Lady's presence surrounding this sacred image is very tangible, as it continues to inexplicably seep oil (see below)... and its odor of fresh roses is just heavenly!

View the footage below, which I
filmed of the streaming icon.

Streaks of aromatic myrrh are visible
on the surface of the holy image.

This viewing of the Iveron Icon would be my 3rd time but, still - it never fails to amaze and touch me.  Two friends who came along with me for their very first visits, were themselves, very positively impressed by their experiences.  I'm sure we'll all be back soon.

Standing beside the actual miracle icon
with a copy of it that I purchased.

This time around, I made a few new friends amongst our Orthodox brethren, plus obtained a beautiful copy of the icon for personal veneration in my home.  I was allowed to touch my icon to the original miracle image so I came home with a meaningful remembrance of this extra-special First Saturday.  GOD IS GOOD!

Saturday evening prayer service in the
Russian Orthodox church, Kailua.

+ For more information about the original miraculous Theotokos of Iveron icon, click here.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Saint of the Month - October 2021: Blessed Karl of Austria

Blessed Karl of Austria
Bl. Karl of Austria
Emperor, Husband, Father, & Holy Man
Memorial: October 21st

On August 17, 1887 a future ruler of an empire was born in the town of Persenbeug to Archduke Otto of Austria and Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony; they named him Karl and he was descended from the long-running royal line of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, which ruled the powerful Austro-Hungarian Empire.

From his childhood, there were signs he was destined for greatness - not so much for any earthly feat, but more so, for his spiritual accomplishments.  In fact, while he was still a little boy, a mystic and stigmatic - Mother Vincentia Fauland of the Child Jesus from the Ursuline Convent of Sopron, Hungry - organized a group of pious Catholics to pray specifically for his well-being.  Mother Vincentia foresaw the Archduke would be saintly and would become Emperor one day (a highly unlikely scenario at the time); that his future would involve attacks from evil forces and great personal sufferings.  All that was prophesied of Karl later proved true.

To start, Karl's mother was highly devout and rather than allowing her son to raised and taught by royal appointees, as was the custom, she personally took charge of his upbringing.  Thus, Princess Josepha was able to instill in her son her deep personal faith, which was the foundation of his exemplary conduct.  The young Archduke was notable for his piety and affable personality; a great love for the Eucharist, which he received daily; an intense devotion towards the Sacred Heart and Our Lady; and a kind, generous nature.  Despite the grandeur and worldliness that came with living in a royal court, Karl was not blinded by it all - preferring a life of simplicity and faith.

 ... I have always tried to know the
will of God and to carry it out in the
most perfect way.

~ Words of Bl. Karl

At 16, Karl was conscripted into military service before attending the University of Prague.  He was highly intelligent and learned to speak several languages, while continuing to impress his peers with his natural goodness and open expressions of faith.

In early 1911, while visiting the court of Vienna, Karl met and feel in love with Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma; they were soon engaged.  It proved to be a providential match because the beautiful Zita was also a devout Catholic who shared many of the Archduke's personal convictions.  They married on October 21, 1911, in the castle of Schwarzau, and immediately left for the Marian shrine of Mariazell to seek the Holy Virgin's guidance and benediction on their union.  Karl reportedly told her on the day after their wedding: "Now, we must help each other to get to Heaven."  Zita readily agreed and, it was evident based on their model lives, that the pair lived up to their agreement while parenting a succession of eight children in the next ten years.

Bl. Karl and Princess Zita
The Emperor Karl and the Empress Zita
with six of their eight children.

In June 1914, Karl was named heir apparent of the Emperor Franz Joseph (his grand uncle) - ruler of the Austro-Hungarian thrones - after a succession of untimely and unexpected deaths among the Habsburg heirs.  When the Emperor died on November 21, 2016, Karl ascended to the throne; he was also crowned the King of Hungary the following month.

At the time of Karl's coronation, World War I was in full swing.  The new monarch again went on pilgrimage to Mariazell to entrust his reign to Our Lady.  His relatively short period of rule was marked by his efforts to help restore peace in Europe, and the establishment of social programs to help the needy impacted by war.  He was also a staunch opponent of the growing movement of Communism in Russia.

Blessed Karl Coronation
Karl, during his coronation as the King
of Hungary in December 2016.

The end of WWI in November 1918 marked the beginning of the end of Karl's reign.  Turmoil between the various ethnic groups that comprised the Austro-Hungarian kingdom, coupled with the meddling of Allied countries, soon led to the splintering of his empire into smaller republics, despite concessions made by the Emperor to maintain a semblance of unity.  Eventually, to ensure peace in the face of civil unrest, Charles allowed himself to be exiled - he sought refuge in Switzerland in March 1919.

It should be noted that Karl never officially abdicated his throne.  He left the throne with the hope of somehow being reinstated to the Hungarian crown once the political climate in the region stabilized.  Two failed attempts in 1921 to restore the king to the throne resulted in him and Zita being taken prisoners by leaders of the new government.  This time around, the royal couple and their children were forcibly exiled to the small Portuguese island of Madeira, where Karl's only other consolation, besides his family, was the Eucharist enshrined in a small home chapel he was permitted to have.

In exile, the deposed ruler surrendered himself completely to the will of God, enduring poverty, hunger, and chronic illness with uncommon peace.  He offered his privations and sufferings for the good of his former subjects, and spent most of his time in deep prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Blessed Karl in repose
Bl. Karl of Austria in death, which occurred
on Madeira in 1922.

In March 1922, Karl came down with a cold that worsened into pneumonia.  The lack of proper medical care and provisions caused his health to quickly deteriorate.  His ever-faithful Empress Zita**, was his constant prayer partner until he breathed his last on April 1, 1922.  Also present near his deathbed was the Lord, through the Eucharist, which was exposed in the dying monarch's room - Karl never ceased to adore the Lord with humility, resignation, and gratitude.  Among his last recorded words are:

Jesus, I trust in You.  Jesus, in You
I live; in You I die. Jesus I am yours,
in life and in death.  Everything,
as you want.

Karl of Austria died at the age of 35; his difficult vocation, a total fulfillment of Mother Vincentia's prophecy.  As news of his personal sanctity began to slowly spread beyond Madeira, the association originally inspired by Mother Vincentia to pray for Karl evolved to become the Emperor Karl League of Prayer, which now promotes his Cause for Canonization.  The saintly monarch has since been Beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 3, 2004... but his Cause needs one more validated miracle for the Emperor to be declared a Saint.  This ministry spiritually unites itself with the League in praying for Bl. Karl's speedy Canonization.

Bl. Karl of Austria,
pray for us!

** POSTSCRIPT:  The Empress Zita died in 1989, also with a reputation for sanctity!  As such, her Cause for Canonization was opened by the Diocese of Le Mans, France, in December 2009.